FINAL UPDATE (3:11 p.m.) If you’re here for the big Muni news, it is that there will be none — not for another week, anyway. By a 7-4 vote, the Board has continued the Muni budget wrangle to a special meeting, to be held next Wednesday at 12 p.m.
Fact du jour: Every time a holder of an MTA FastPass rides BART within San Francisco, BART charges the MTA $1.02. BART charges the agency about $12-13 million annually for the right of FastPass holders to ride BART within SF, according to MTA spokesman Judson True.
The big news today is what’s been the big news for the past few weeks — the MTA and its budget. In the wake of his announcement Friday in $15 million in proposed revenue increases stemming from cars, Supervisor John Avalos yesterday marched down to the MTA and demanded to see Muni chief Nat Ford. Avalos came, Avalos saw — and Avalos left without anything at all, save a promise from Ford to “call him later.”
Still on the agenda for later today is the motion originally written by Supervisor David Chiu that would allow the Board of Supervisors to reject the MTA’s budget. That same measure was tabled last week on a 6 to 5 vote. The Board needs seven votes to reject the budget.
The swing vote in this situation is Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, who has said only that she likes the $15 million in new revenue Avlaos proposed. How will she vote on the measure to reject the budget? Time. Will. Tell!
2:20 p.m. Well, well — we’re jumping right into it for a change. Avalos says that the MTA budget makes riders pay more than drivers for public transit; four times as much, in fact. His suggestions would go a way towards righting that ship, but it’s not enough — “the only way to keep the MTA accountable… is to reject this budget,” he said.
2:36 p.m. Nat Ford is here, and you don’t need to tell him the budget sucks. He readily admits that the budget sucks. “It’s a status quo budget… a strategy that should not go in the long term,” he said. Oh and also — did you know that your FastPass won’t work on BART anymore? Yes, that’s another thing — like 311, like the SFPD’s Traffic Division — that the MTA’s been paying for. Might as well throw a few million into Johannes Mehserle’s defense fund.
2:43 p.m. If the SAT verbal section was a team sport, the first man picked would certainly be Ross Mirkarimi. This is no budget crisis, it’s a “fiduciary” something-something. But he’ll put this in the clearest terms possible: the BoS needs sway over the MTA, and they need it today. The BoS should get to appoint some MTA members, rather than just leaving it up to the Mayor of San Francisco. “Reject the budget.” Applause.
2:45 p.m. Oh snappage: John Avalos will introduce a charter amendment later in the day that would allow us — yes, us, we the people, the electorate, the leviathan — to elect one of the seven MTA board members. More on that later, such as when we’d get to vote on it (the fall, presumably). Speaking of which, did you vote today? First 10,000 voters got a free hat today*.
2:47 p.m. One of the big knocks on changing parking enforcement rules — to allow meter enforcement past 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and to end the antiquated practice of free parking on Sundays — is that it is anti-business; that forcing poor motorists to sacrifice their laundry fund just to park would hurt restaurants, shops and other businesses that like it very much when folks can park for free and spend lots of cash. But apparently, that’s all out the window — the Chamber of Commerce likes changing the parking rules, according to Avalos. All right: solidarity.
2:54 p.m. Sean Elsbernd has a charter amendment too, you know — it would alter the city charter to no longer guarantee Muni drivers the second-highest wages in the country. Considering that most major cities charge much more for their fast passes than San Franciscans do, that might not be a bad idea. If the drivers had to negotiate to give back some of their money, maybe things would be different — oh, shit! Sophie Maxwell is talking, hang on.
2:56 p.m. Ok, false alarm — she hasn’t said which way she’ll vote on the measure to reject the budget. But she does say she is “open” to the parking rules changes. Maybe she will carpool with us?
2:59 p.m. Carmen Chu is responsible. It is she who’s quick to point out that this budget wrangle could all be moot when/if the state ballot measures fail: whether they pass or not, the state is still facing a huge budget hole, and that could be passed onto local budgets. Keep in mind the MTA already lost something close to $50 million in state funding.
3:03 p.m. Did anyone have Memorial Day plans? If you did and you are a Supervisor, you’d best cancel them: Mirkarimi has just made a motion to continue the budget rejection matter to a next week, when there is no meeting scheduled. Special meeting time??
3:05 p.m. 2 p.m. Wednesday? That work for you? No. Ok… uh…11 a.m. work? No? Ok, how about noon?
3:07 p.m. Noon seems good, but it’s not good for Sean Elsbernd. That, and it’s not great for the Mayor, either — if the MTA budget wrangle is put off for another week, that could screw up Mayor Newsom’s grand plan for balancing what is, at last estimate, something like a $170 million deficit.
3:10 p.m. Well, see you next week, Muni budget heads: the motion’s been continued to next Wednesday at noon. Get your TiVos out.
3:23 p.m. Public access television is at last saved, once at for all. An ordinance bumping up cable television subscribers’ fees by $2.35 a month was approved. This will load something close to $500,000 into AccesSF’s coffers, to allow it to continue operating. Yay TV! On the record as hating public access tv: Chu, Elsbernd, Michela Alioto-Pier. Don’t expect invitations onto ‘Farrakhan Speaks’ anytime soon.
UPDATE 4:09 p.m. That $2.35 figure is the old number, based on setting aside 3 percent of cable provider’s incomes for local access programming. Amendments introduced today lower that number to 1.15 percent, meaning that cable subscribers can expect to pay a whopping 89 cents more per month on their cable bills. Subscribers already pay 52 cents per month — that is, IF Comcast chooses to raise its rates.
3:35 p.m. We’ll close out the live blog for now — not much else to see, not in real-time, anyhow. Check back later; we’ll post more on the charter amendment changing firefighters’ workweeks as the afternoon rolls on.
*Not true — or is it? Go find out.